The Riverside neighborhood has long served as the gold standard for pedestrian-friendliness in Jacksonville – and perhaps no part of the neighborhood exemplifies this better than Five Points.
But there’s at least one way that Five Points could be made even safer for pedestrians: by turning its main stretch into a pedestrian mall.
As it stands, most savvy commuters tend to avoid driving through that stretch anyway – particularly at night, when the area’s bars are filled near capacity and vehicle traffic through the main strip slows to a crawl while contending with ride-share pickups and pedestrians crossing the street.
And unfortunately, those who don’t avoid the stretch tend to also be the ones that cause problems, whether it’s by halting traffic through their confusion or by passing through at dangerous speeds.
Closing off the Five Points block of Park Street could even cut down on confusion – and accidents – at the Five Points traffic beacon. With one option removed, it essentially becomes a normal four-way intersection.
It’s a move that would make even more sense given the city’s plans for a road diet on parts of Park Street leading up to Five Points. Vehicle traffic could be diverted to Post Street, while the newly-created bike routes would be able to continue on through the mall in dedicated lanes.
Pedestrian malls or pedestrian-friendly zones have become increasingly popular in cities looking to enhance foot traffic and improve the pedestrian experience. The concept has proven successful in several cities including nearby St. Augustine, in which much of the historic downtown area is blocked off for pedestrian traffic only.
The newly-created mall could be utilized for live events, vendor carts, food trucks, and more – and would allow bar-goers to venture out into the street for fresh air rather than squeezing into limited sidewalk space.
An idea like this would of course be a tough sell in a car-focused city like Jax, where there are still plenty of residents who can’t even fathom getting out of their car and walking somewhere. Still, it’s hard to see the drawback to making areas with heavy pedestrian traffic a little harder for cars to access.
What do you think – would a pedestrian mall or zone in Five Points be helpful? Let us know in the comments or on social media!